The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sharks

Fact of the Day: Basking Shark

Basking Shark (credit: Chris Gotschalk)

Only one more week until Shark Week!  

So in preparation for the upcoming shark fest, today we will talk about the basking shark. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world.  (Pop quiz - what is the largest fish in the world? I’ll give you a hint: I have already written a FOTD about this kind of shark.) 

These sharks are filter feeders so they just swim around with their mouths open, collecting plankton and other tiny creatures while filtering out hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every hour. The water is filtered through the shark’s characteristically large gill slits on the sides of its head. 

Check out Oceana.org/Explore for more shark info and see you tomorrow for another FOTD!


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Ted Talks Oil Spill, Sharks on the Late Late Show

Oceana board member Ted Danson was on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson a few nights ago, and after they discussed, among other things, Larry David’s germophobia, they bantered about the oceans.

Ferguson, who is hosting Discovery’s Shark Week starting August 1, recently swam with sharks in the Caribbean. He also made a shark PSA for us -- stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, watch their ocean banter:


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What Kind of Shark Are You?

Great White Shark (credit: Oceana/David P Stephens)

Hello, shark fans!

While I generally don’t take advice from 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan, I do try to “live every week like it’s Shark Week.”  But as you may know, the real Shark Week starts August 1 and this year Oceana is an official partner with Discovery, so get ready for even more shark-filled fun and conservation.

I’ve been excited for weeks now so when I ran into the “What Kind of Shark Are You?” quiz on Discovery’s website, I had to check it out.  After answering the 10 questions I discovered that I am…a great white shark!

What kind of shark are you? Take the quiz and let us know your results! 

And to learn more about your shark alter ego, head to Oceana.org/Explore.


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Fact of the Day: Tawny Nurse Shark

(Credit: David Burdick)

The tawny nurse shark is a nocturnal shark, swimming and hunting during the night and returning to the same location to rest during the day. These bottom-dwelling sharks typically look for small overhangs, caves or other slightly protected areas as their resting grounds and occasionally even rest in groups. Tawny nurse sharks are known to be docile and generally ignore humans unless provoked.

Check out how these sharks hunt for their prey -- Or explore some different ocean animals! And of course, check back tomorrow for another FOTD!


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Guest Post: Gulf Sharks Threatened by the Oil Spill

whale shark

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Our friends at Oceans4Ever are hosting the first ever Summer Sharktakular this week, along with shark blogger extraordinare, David Shiffman. David wrote this guest post for us about the threats facing sharks in the Gulf. Be sure to check out the rest of the Sharktakular this week! - Emily

Many threats facing sharks, such as bycatch and finning, are well known to conservationists. Less well known, but just as serious to some species, are the threats to sharks from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sharks can come into direct contact with oil on the surface, which appears to be happening to whale sharks. These threatened animals, the largest fish in the sea, feed by filtering plankton out of the water. In other words, they swim with their mouths open near the surface, which is a surefire recipe to ingest floating oil.

The estuaries of the northern Gulf are important nurseries for a variety of smaller shark species. Newborn sharks use the shallow waters, safe from predators and full of food, as a safe place to grow up. Oil has reached many of these estuaries, with unknown (but undoubtedly bad) long-term effects on the species that use them. Entire year-classes of some populations may die as their nursery grounds become poisoned.


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Fact of the Day: Pacific Angel Shark

Pacific Angel Shark (credit: Philippe Guillaume)

Happy Friday!

Today’s FOTD is on the Pacific angel shark. While Pacific angel sharks may closely resemble rays, a few distinctive characteristics define them as sharks. First, the pectoral fins of Pacific angel sharks are partially separated from their heads, while rays have pectoral fins that are entirely attached to their heads. 

Also, these sharks have gill slits on the sides of their heads, while rays have gills on the bottom of their heads.  Finally, the mouth of the Pacific angel shark is on the front of its head, rather than on the bottom of its head like a ray’s mouth.

Pacific angel sharks are the perfect marine example of why you can’t judge a book by its cover!

 Be sure to check out Oceana.org/Explore for your weekend fact fix and I’ll see you Monday!


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Fact of the Day: Greenland Shark

The Greenland shark is a cold water shark, living in the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans.  Its flesh is poisonous to humans if eaten fresh. 

Check out our full list of creatures and come back tomorrow for another random fact!  


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Surfer Holly Beck Swims with Sharks

Holly Beck has an enviable life. A world-class surfer and model, she spends most of the year traveling to the world’s most beautiful places.

Here’s one more reason to envy her -- the Oceana supporter also recently swam with whale sharks and great white sharks. Watch the video below to see footage of Beck swimming within inches of whale sharks and getting giddy when she sees great whites.

After swimming with the great whites she says, “Trust me on this one, the shark didn’t want to eat me.”

Coincidentally, the scientist tagging whale sharks in the first part of the video is Rachel Graham, who has worked with our colleagues in Belize.

You can take action for sharks with another blonde beauty who loves sharks, January Jones, and learn more about Holly Beck at her blog.


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Fact of the Day: Whale Sharks

In honor of Shark Week, which is just a few short weeks away, my first “Fact of the Day” post will be about -- you guessed it -- sharks!

The whale shark is the largest fish in the world. These sharks grow up to 65 feet (20 meters) long and their mouths are 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide.

And here’s a bonus fact: whale sharks have the thickest skin of any animal in the world at up to 4 inches thick.

Curious for more? Be sure to come back tomorrow for another exciting fact or check out Oceana.org/Explore and do some investigating on your own!


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Q&A with Shark Finatics' Teacher, Robin Culler

The Shark Finatics

Junior Ocean Hero winners the Shark Finatics with teacher Robin Culler.

The 2010 Junior Ocean Hero Winners are the Shark Finatics, a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York who have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world - and an immeasurable amount of awareness about shark finning.

We spoke to the Finatics' teacher, Robin Culler, who was overjoyed to hear that her students had been named Ocean Heroes.

How does it feel to win this award?

Words can't even begin to describe how it feels winning this award! The Finatics have many friends and fans, around the world, who have been such a great support since the very beginning. The kids can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of all of this. I'm not sure I can either!   

It seems we are living in a time when the oceans really need a hero.

Because of the situation in the Gulf, oceans and our environment are making major daily news. To be winning recognition for all of our work in shark conservation at this time is extremely poignant.

It is unfortunate that it often takes a catastrophe, such as the oil spill, for people to sit up and pay attention to the state of our oceans. I doubt the average person even knows that over 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from our oceans. Unhealthy oceans will trickle down to unhealthy us.


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